Reading & Literacy

Google Maps a Spelling Bee for States

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — June 01, 2017 1 min read
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It’s the week of the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee, where spellers between the ages of 6 and 15 are competing to demonstrate their mastery of the tricks and tics of English spelling. The bee’s final round is today.

But while the young people are untangling words like choucroute (fine-cut cabbage fermented in brine) and pterylosis (type of arrangement of feathers), it turns out many of us aren’t sure how to spell more mundane words.

Google released a map yesterday on its Google Trends Twitter account showing which words inspired people in each state to seek spelling help online. The map is based on searches for “How to spell _______” for the first four months of 2017 for each state.

Wisconsin drew the most double takes: Yes, residents of the Badger State seem to be confused about how to spell Wisconsin. (One Twitter user shared a clip from a TV show in which a Wisconsinite had dubbed his home state “Wisconson.”)

Animal names and words of praise tripped up other spellers: “Beautiful” and “Hallelujah” made a few appearances; residents of Arkansas want to know how to spell “chihuahua,” and residents of Louisiana want to know how to spell “giraffe.”

Some of the words are specifically designed to trip up would-be spellers. Connecticut and West Virginia, for instance, are searching for how to spell “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” the enthusiastic expression of delight from Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins. (It seems there may be a sequel to the original movie coming soon.)

New Jersey, on the other hand, is trying to figure out how to spell..."twelve?” Somehow, that doesn’t seem likely to be a word in today’s bee finals.

Can’t watch? The National Spelling Bee is Tweeting tricky words throughout the day. You might learn a word or two.


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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.